What did we do for 4th of July? Ok, so no one is really asking, but whatever. We saw the fireworks around town as we drove home from our weekend trip to Hoodsport’s Yellow House. Not very festive in the traditional sense, but we Davis’ roll that way. James did get to see some fireworks being shot from the roof of an apartment next to Dick’s Drive In on Capitol Hill, that and some dude getting questioned by the police. Like I said not very traditional, but James seemed to like it.
What is The Yellow House, you ask? The Yellow House is a turn-of- the century farm house. The house is a short walk to downtown (and I use the term downtown very loosely) Hoodsport on the Hood Canal; a few short steps across from the canal itself, with lovely views of the water. And the house is, I know this will come as a shock, bright yellow.
The house has been lovingly restored and cared for by its owners, and is a relaxing place to stay when diving at Hood Canal. There is a fully stocked kitchen with all the all kitchen utensils needed for cooking, you supply the food. On the main floor, there is a cozy living and dining room. The living room has a large LCD TV and nice supply of DVDs. The main floor also has a private bedroom and a cute but very narrow bathroom. Upstairs is a sitting area, a second, more generously sized bathroom, and two bedrooms, both slightly larger than the room downstairs. The basement has a dorm set up with bunk beds, privacy curtains, a TV, DVD player, movies, bath and laundry. We’ve never stayed in the dorm, though it is less expensive, because James talks in his sleep and we don’t want to disturb other guests. There are two decks (upper and lower) with lovely views of the canal. Behind the house there is a patio with a huge grill and a hot tub. The garage has been converted in to an area for rinsing, storing, and drying dive gear. Dive certification classes are also taught there and they can even fill tanks!
4thof July last year was our first year at The Yellow House, and I enjoyed it so much that I pushed really hard to go back again this year. The group of people that we stay with makes the trip so worthwhile. We usually know a few folks: Dad, who graciously watches James while we dive, and a small group of people from The Tri-Cities Atomic Ducks diving club. There are usually a few people that we don’t know. We spend non-dive time hanging out at the dining room table, or in the living room, trading stories, re-acquainting ourselves with people that we haven’t seen in a while, and getting to know the folks we haven’t met before. Some of the stories we hear, mostly about diving, are amazing.
Since roughly the same group gets together every 4th of July, each family contributes a dinner to share, and these people can cook! For breakfast and lunch, we were supposed to fend for ourselves, but luckily the owner (Don who also owns a share in Hoodsport ‘n Dive) was there with Harley, one of his crew. Harley graciously cooked breakfast every morning. Harley made Mikey Mouse pancakes for James which 1. made him do a happy dance complete with clapping and 2. left him worshiping Harley like a god for most of the day afterwards.
We managed to go on four dives this year. Alex (one of Don’s instructors) and Harley were kind enough to take us on a checkout dive. We recently acquired dry suites and our test run in the pool a few weeks back wasn’t terribly successful. Imagine tucking yourself into a giant Ziploc, sucking out all the air, donning a hundred pounds of gear, trying to waddle into a pool and figure out how to deal with your new suite alone. Tim was playing around with the air pocket in his suite and wound up suspended upside down- not fun. We tried really hard afterwards to talk ourselves into calling the evening a leaarrrrning experience a disaster. Naturally, we were hesitant to try our new gear, on our own in open water, but Alex and Harley quickly put our fears to rest. We were geared up in the garage, walked across the street, down a flight of steps and into the water. Easy peasy..mostly. Having a dive site right across the street is super convenient, but we were each loaded down with so much gear, and trying to dodge traffic, which can be quite heavy over 4th of July weekend, was hectic to put it mildly.
We dove twice in the site across the street on Friday. This particular area is set up for training divers, includes ropes for orienting under water. Don and his team have carefully sunk boats, tires, and rought iron sculptures to encourage marine life.
We saw way more critters than we did last time including a Red Octopus, Rock Fish, a Moon Jelly, and a lot of crabs and shrimp. There were a few crabs that tried really hard to get Tim to go away with ineffective arm waving and claw snapping- picture Finding Nemo.
On Saturday we dove the North and South walls of Send Rock. Last year our dives didn’t go well, and we were hoping for better this year. Don and Peggy (Atomic Ducks) generously agreed to take us out again and we were hoping that we wouldn’t make any rookie mistakes. Don and Peggy are both so nice and so patient, we didn’t want to frustrate them and ruin their dives, but we couldn’t quite keep it together.
On our first dive (the North Wall) we saw two octos, one with eggs, and finally WOLF EELs, including mated pairs. They are as ugly as they are large with teeth that stick out like dropped pickup sticks. However, towards the end of the dive, visibility was really poor and we lost Tim. He handled it great, by deciding to surface, with the required safety stop. Don surfaced to find him, and Peggy and I met them on shore a few minutes later.
With the visibility so poor, we decided to descend the South Wall together, and then stay in pairs instead of as a group. We managed to stay together as a foursome for most of the dive, saw more eels, octopuses (octopi?), a luminous nudibranch, an other-worldly Fried Egg Jelly, and a Grunt Sculpin. But Tim’s light flooded, and just when we made it past that problem, I got hit with a huge bout of nausea. I really didn’t want to have to clean puke out of my regulator, so Tim and I surfaced and made a long surface swim back to shore. A bald eagle flew over us as we were swimming, a beautiful sight. I did not throw up- yeah for me! I did manage to fall down with all my gear when we got to shore, which was mighty embarrassing, and it was really hard to get up.
I really didn’t want to leave on Saturday, but Tim and James go to the Vintage Auto Races every year, so we drove home that night so that they could attend on Sunday. I hope we get to go back next year.
I hope everyone else out there had a good 4th. What did you do?